Richard Grego, Materialist Soothing |595|

Dr. Rich Grego… atheism / scientism rehash… Sam Harris… survival, the ultimate test for scientism.


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[00:00:00] Alex Tsakiris: , On this episode of Skeptiko, A show about


[00:00:00] Alex Tsakiris: Um, this episode of Skeptiko, , A show about self-soothing.

[00:00:06] Clip: she needs to learn how to self sooth. . She’s to what? Self sooth Sooth herself. , let’s just sing a song. We’ll sing a song. Um, uh, the wheels on the bus go round, round. And round down . , maybe she’s hungry. . I’m gonna feed her.

Hi. Come on. Let’s go eat. Come on. I thought you were picking her.


[00:00:28] Alex Tsakiris: And how, if it was never really a good idea in child rearing. It probably isn’t a . Good truth seeking slash personal development strategy either.

[00:00:39] Dr. Rich Grego: Sean Carroll is writing books about the meaning of life. He’s a complete materialist. , , Sam Harris is, is, is a guru now, right? I mean, he’s a pop culture sort of guru, but people come to him with answers about the meaning of life and what, what is it? . , , if you’re a physicalist, , you can’t really acknowledge morality.

You can’t really acknowledge aesthetic quality. You can’t really acknowledge literature, art. You can’t acknowledge the meaning of life I mean, it’s ruled out in advance.



[00:01:08] Alex Tsakiris: I don’t want to change my beliefs.

To whatever extent my life is livable. . It rests on the fact that I’m constantly seeking to be soothed, to be comforted by that voice inside my head, manipulated in a way that makes me feel okay. And the last thing I wanna do is take that leap and say there’s something more,

That first clip was from the movie life, as we know it. . And the second was from our guest,

dr. Richard Grego, who was nice enough to join me on this kind of trip through. Memory lane rebooted by some new stuff. That’s come out.

. Rich is a terrific guy and a great guest to the show. Really, really smart. Appreciate what he brings to this conversation. I hope you enjoy it.

Okay. Dr. Rich Grego is back. Rich is professor of Philosophy and cultural history, Florida State College, Jacksonville, and a really, really cool friend of the show. So, rich emailed me about a month ago and what, what ensued after that was, I think, a really cool conversation that we had that kind of morphed into this show maybe Rich, you want to tell folks about, uh, this guy who you interviewed and then I subsequently interviewed on Skeptiko, and then we’ll tell him about this new book that he has

[00:02:32] Dr. Rich Grego: out. Okay, sure. , , I interviewed, , , Alexander Maria Alameda, or who’s a, who’s a really, uh, impressive.

I, at least I find him very impressive. Guys, what you really, you can tell me what you think Alex, but for me is what you really are looking for in a great research scientist, um, especially when it comes to a controversial issue, um, that other, other scientists tend to judge unfairly. Um, so, and, and, and again, he, he’s been a near death researcher for a long time, as you said.

I interviewed him for the, for Skeptiko actually at, at, at a long time, a while ago now at the American Psychological Association Conference, I believe in Orlando. , he was doing a panel discussion with several other leading lights in including, , I think Stanley Kryp. And another guy, philosopher, can’t remember.

[00:03:26] Alex Tsakiris: That’s great. So lemme just interject to put an exclamation point on what you said. So, totally legit guy. He’s going to APA the biggest conference for psychologist. , he’s a medical doctor. And he happens in a very kind of open Brazilian way where they’re not kind of closed down to some of this crazy materialism.

He’s like, Hey, there’s a lot of stuff going on in the world. You know, I, we have John of God out here in our backyard. We have other spiritual stuff going on. So I need to go out and observe and report. And as a doctor and as somebody who publishes in peer review papers, like you’re saying, this is what I do baby.

I do science. So you interviewed him, it was really great. And then he came out with another book. I interviewed him really great. And then, Tell me about this book that he has that you pinged me on in your email. Yeah.

[00:04:21] Dr. Rich Grego: Well, when I originally interviewed him at the conference, it was in regard to a book that he had done in conjunction with a number of other really interesting, um, people in that field called Frontiers of the Mind Body Relationship, I believe.

And that’s what their panel was about. Um, however, I, I just noticed, um, because I happened to be reviewing a book for Springer Press for somebody else, that he had a book out, a new, relatively new, I think it came out last year, called The Science of Life After Death, um, which is just what it’s calling about.

It’s, and, and it’s very focused. It’s a great book, very brief, under a hundred pages, where he really summarizes the latest res a a lot of the latest research. And more importantly, it’s both, its implications and the reasons why the scientific community still. Has not, for whatever reason, uh, chosen to take it seriously.

So, well,

[00:05:18] Alex Tsakiris: buddy, that’s exactly what we’re gonna talk about today because you know, you, so you pinged me on that, and then I said, great, let’s get him back on, let’s talk about this. And then the more we talked, we’re like, you know, we don’t really wanna talk to him about this because in a way he’s a fantastic guy and I’ll love talking to him.

But in a way, it, it gets in the, it misses the point. This is a check the box kind of book. Yeah, of course. Consciousness survives death. The, the problem is the way that we’ve, uh, been trained to understand this very limited idea of consciousness and then how it plays out in these questions of survival. So w w where I wanted to shift it and we’ll shift it right away to maybe a video, and I was looking, you know, who do we want to talk about this?

And then I, I kind of thought. What popped to mind is the, anti-Christ of, , neuroscience and afterlife, Dr. Sam Harris. Now, you, you know, the interesting thing about, , Sam Harris is that I point out to people is I have a video clip I’m gonna play in just a minute, and it’s a few years old, but it’s great because it’s really where he lives and it’s where he lives to this day.


the, if you’re just perusing me, the you’re after, you’re not gonna find that you actually, you’re gonna find like this clip I’m playing here from Joe Rogan.

Or you’re gonna find clips like this one from the very excellent Lex Friedman, who is totally waffling on this issue too. Totally misses the point. But you know, he’s gonna ask him directly, Sam, what’s the meaning of life? Get up without any explanation.

What is the meaning of life? and I’ll, I’ll spare you because he goes on 10 minutes and he doesn’t answer it. Of course, he doesn’t answer it. And the reason relates back to what we’re gonna talk about today versus, . , Alameda’s book and this whole topic of survival, of consciousness. And the best way I think for us to get there is for me to play a, a another Sam Harris clip.

The Best Sam Harris clip. Let me play that.

Science is not in, in principle,

[00:07:25] Dr. Rich Grego: committed to the idea that there’s no afterlife or that the mind is identical

[00:07:29] Alex Tsakiris: to the brain, right? Or that materialism is true. Science is completely open to whatever, in fact is true. And if it’s true that the consciousness is being run like software on the brain and can by virtue of Ectoplasm or something else we don’t understand, can be dissociated from the brain of death, that would be part of our growing scientific understanding of the world if we could discover it now.

Right. Uh, and there’s, there are ways we could in fact, discover that if it were true. The problem is, there are very good reasons to think it’s not true. And we know this from now 150 years of neurology where you damage

[00:08:09] Dr. Rich Grego: areas of the

[00:08:10] Alex Tsakiris: brain and faculties are lost and they’re clearly, it’s

[00:08:13] Dr. Rich Grego: not

[00:08:13] Alex Tsakiris: that everyone with brain damage is perfect, has their soul perfectly intact.

They just can’t get the words out. This is, everything about your mind can be damaged by damaging the brain. And what we’re being asked to consider is that you damage one part of the brain and the mind, something about the mind and, and, and subjectivity is lost. You damage another and, and, and yet more is lost. And yet, if you damage the whole thing at death, We can rise off the brain with all our faculties intact, recognizing grandma and speaking English .

Okay, so that’s great. And you got all that right, rich? That all came through. Sure. Okay. The million things we can talk about, and this is kind of old school Skeptiko stuff, but we’re gonna bring it up to date cuz it’s really, really, I think, current, particularly with what we’ve gone through in the last year in terms of what it means to surrender science to the authorities, to the expert, to the, we are science, we’ll tell you what science is.

Mm-hmm. And the first thing I point out and, . , I, I want you to comment on this because. In particular, rich, what’s great about talking to you is you have this strong philosophy background, and you think like a philosopher, but you also think like a scientist. We would expect the same from Dr. Sam Harris.

And let’s, by the way, not forget that his brand is atheist. That is his brand, right? So he’s, he, he gotta remember, he’s not gonna switch his position because he’s built this kind of brand and his other brand is neuroscience. He’s a neuroscientist. Right? So those are the two things, but right off the bat, .

What does he do with science? What does he say about science? One, he misses the basic Skeptiko 1 0 1. Science is a method. It’s not a position statement. What does he say at the beginning? Science says this. Science is this. I am science. Yeah. Do you wanna just, uh, even build off of that comment on that.

[00:10:15] Dr. Rich Grego: Yeah, I don’t know.

I mean, you know, I tend to, you know, I’m a cultural historian too. I just tend to look at that view of science now and, and maybe the institutionalization of it like that as similar to the, you know, the church and scholasticism in the 5,500 years ago. Um, it’s, it’s sort of the, the, you know, where they, and, and it’s easy for us to look at it that way because we can all look back 500 years and be critical of the, of the Catholic church in the 15 hundreds.

Um, and scholastic philosophy and the scholastic worldview as being, um, reductive and, and um, and controlling and domineering and, uh, authoritarian. And monolithic. And I think that’s, Sam Harris represents that trend now in, I, I think in science today, SCIM being the scholasticism of the modern era. Um, so you have a, an institution that, that now is desperate to control.

In a very reductive way, this really reductive narrative about what real all reality is and what you’re allowed to admit, what you’re allowed to say or not say, or what will allow what you’re allowed to investigate for that matter. .

[00:11:27] Alex Tsakiris: But Well, I I think we also gotta point out that he does it in a very, uh, subtle way here.

And again, this is a few years old and his new shtick is even more smooth and has these, you know, very meditative kind of things. But, but he’s sliding off of, I really wanna drill into the science thing because number one, he says, science doesn’t say this science. And he equates science with materialism.

He doesn’t, he doesn’t even introduce the basics of science is what we’re going to go out and observe. We are going to observe the world. He seems to be completely bypassing. What we were talking about in the book with Almeda, which is anyone can go out and say, gee, we’ve observed a lot of cases where consciousness seems to survive death.

Is he referencing any of those? Is he referencing near death experience? , after death communication, medium communication, is he referencing any out of body experience? Reincarnation? These are all observed phenomena that we can acknowledge at least because people are doing research on him and publishing peer reviewed papers on him.

And he could say, there are all these observations out there that we need to somehow wrap our arms around and figure out he’s, he’s not doing any of that. Go back and listen carefully to what he said, and this is philosophy, right? Because what he’s doing is taking a philosophical approach. He’s not talking about a observed evidence or experimentation, falsification.

He’s saying, I’m gonna make an inference here about if, you know the brain is damaged, your memory’s damaged. Therefore, if the whole brain is damaged, then there couldn’t possibly, it’s like, what about, what about the data? What about the data over here?

[00:13:14] Dr. Rich Grego: Right? Any thoughts on that? Yeah. Which is supposed to be what science is all about, right?

I mean, and, and, and in fact, the, it seems to me, especially in terms of near death experience, the majority of scientists who actually go out and do what you’re prescribing. Find exist. You know, their conclusions are exactly the opposite of Sam Harris’s as well as ever, as well as most of the other sort of con, I dunno what, n d e debunkers if, if that’s the right word.

I don’t know. Um, but, and, and, and you being as familiar with the literature as you are, in fact probably much more than, than obviously much more than a Sam Harris. Um, I, I’m sure you can attest to that. Are there, are there that many people who’ve really researched the phenomenon, who come to the conclusion that, you know, all these dismissive, any of these dismissive conclusions, it’s hypoxia, it’s, it’s an illusion.

It’s. You know, whatever, uh, uh, is, is that the case? I

[00:14:15] Alex Tsakiris: don’t think so. Is it? Yeah. No, that’s, that’s not on the table. And as you and I are, are kind of alluding to here, you know, the next level of this is to one, really hone in on what the topic is because the topic is really about consciousness. Yes. And survival is just, the survival of consciousness is really just the ultimate test.

It’s the ultimate test because we can bat around, you know, the observer effect and all this other stuff. Yeah. But when you get outside, Hey man, that dude died and he was in a body bag, and yet he was able to observe what was going on and report it. In detail in a way that we have other eye witnesses that say that, well, how would you know that?

How would that, so we get from a near death experience standpoint, we get there, but it’s a lot of other people have pointed out, you get there a number of other ways. Yes, you can go to University of Virginia and get all that reincarnation research and it’s just, you know, you can’t, you can’t just sidestep, well, you can sidestep it, but ultimately the reason why science can’t swallow this is because as it relates to consciousness and the position they’ve taken, and this will be a little bit of a trip down memory lane, but this is kinda fun for me to remind folks . What’s really behind the Sam Harris kind of mindset.

And now it’s really kind of this. Limited hangout kind of thing in a way, when he talks about, you know, he seemed meaning of life and meditation and you know, what are you really, and all this stuff. Hey bro, from a science standpoint, it comes down to one thing. It comes down to consciousness. Yeah. Okay. Let me play this clip

But you can say something about the question, which you really would wish to know the answer to. And I mean, for, for me it would be what’s, what’s consciousness? It’s Dawkins, of course. Totally baffling. Richie, you

[00:16:18] Dr. Rich Grego: know what? I think I agree, but what I think on this

[00:16:23] Alex Tsakiris: is. Uh, consciousness has kind of

[00:16:26] Dr. Rich Grego: baffled us for a while, okay?


[00:16:30] Alex Tsakiris: evidence that we haven’t a clue about what consciousness is, is drawn from the, in, from the fact of how many books are published on the topic, right? We’re not really continuing to publish books. Not really on like Newtonian physics. It’s done. All right? So, so the fact that people keep publishing books on consciousness is the evidence.

We don’t know anything about it. Cuz if we knew all about it, you wouldn’t have to keep publishing. So, so what I wonder, what I wonder, Richard, is whether there really is no such thing as consciousness

[00:17:09] Dr. Rich Grego: at all,

[00:17:10] Alex Tsakiris: and that there’s some other understanding of the functioning of the human brain that renders that question

[00:17:16] Dr. Rich Grego: obsolete.

[00:17:17] Alex Tsakiris: Uh, Neil de Tyson.

that was

[00:17:21] Dr. Rich Grego: a Rob

[00:17:22] Alex Tsakiris: gallery. I’m laughing like, like I was laughing. What is so funny about that? Of course. That last voice was Bill nine. The science guy who was up there with him too. What’s the, he was astonished. Bill was astonished. It doesn’t take much. I mean, the idea that maybe consciousness is not there is probably the weirdest, stupidest idea ever conceived by human thought.

I mean, where does thought take place? It takes place in consciousness. So here we have consciousness, uh, uh, speculating about the possibility that consciousness does not exist, and it may not be there. I mean, the very thought is, is that in your face, contradiction and the fact that something like this is not only seriously entertained, but even verbalized by a person with the public exposure of the gentleman we just saw is, is uh, uh, a worrying sign of cultural sickness, .

Okay, so that first quote or that first clip was obviously, uh, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. And the second was me yucking it up with, uh, Dr. Bernardo Castro about just how absurd that is, and I think he does a great job of it. So I don’t need to go over it again, but I juxtaposed that with Sam Harris’s clip because Sam Harris is saying the exact same thing.

He’s just putting it in a different rapper. He’s saying, well, consciousness can really only be tied to the brain, so therefore there’s no way we could even imagine philosophy, philosophy, philosophy, that consciousness could survive bodily death. Enter in. Our friend Dr. Alexander in Brazil who says, Hey, well, I’m sorry.

I just reviewed the best evidence we have. And it completely contradicts what you’re saying by every means we have of evaluating it.

[00:19:30] Dr. Rich Grego: Yeah. What did you think of that, that little? Absolutely. And I, I, like I said, I love that rogues gallery of, you’ve got the Lawrence Krause and Sam Harris and Bill me, the science guy was great.

And he had, um, Neil deGrasse Tyson. And, um, and, and I love, you know, Castro’s response to that. He, he’s, he’s never had a loss for, um, an acerbic response to nonsense, but,

[00:19:56] Alex Tsakiris: um, well, it is, and nonsense is the key word because, uh, what Bernardo is saying here, which is difficult for people to hear, because I know, you know, I run into this all the time and kind of the don’t suffer fools gladly kind of thing.

Mm-hmm. But it’s like, this is how, you know, you’re an academic, you’re an intellectual, you’re a scholar. This is how you guys talk. It is, it’s not a blood sport, but it’s like, hey, we got to get to the truth. So we don’t, you know, we just kind of put it out there and say, that’s silly.

It’s nonsense.

[00:20:29] Dr. Rich Grego: Know, I don’t know. I, I, I, I think I’m kind of as flummoxed as you and I’m, I’m constantly, I, I’m even writing, you know, some scholar my own scholarly papers and, and looking at the, the research and, um, and reading the scholarship all the time.

I just don’t get it. . , I, I think to some extent, you know, I think people like Rupert Shere, you know, is a longtime fan here, a longtime guest here has, has pointed this out to you that, . , to some extent the scientific community has loosened its death grip.

Desperate death grip on materialism. Correct. I mean, and now even a Sam Harris, I think, um, is starting to talk about things like panpsychism and, and all these escape routes they have, . , where they can try to still be physicalist, but pretend they’re not right. And, and, uh, open the door just enough to let some other stuff in.

Um, so that they, they, they don’t sound completely ridiculous. But, um, I, I, I just don’t know. I read this stuff and I, and this is why I guess I’ve lingered on this topic so long and haven’t gone your route, the sort of the Skeptiko 2.0 route and just said, listen, we’ve got this question settled now. Any reasonable person can look over the evidence for themselves.

Let’s see where it leads us. Let’s get beyond the debate over whether there’s such a thing as consciousness and all this ridiculous stuff. Um, I keep going back to it because everybody in, people in my field are still insisting no matter what arguments you come up with, no matter how you critique their arguments, they’re still insisting the kind of things you’re hearing from Sam Harris in that video.

[00:22:10] Alex Tsakiris: . , you said something really interesting, they’re rich that I think we should jump onto next, and that is the loosening of the grip of, uh, materialism. Although I would say I don’t think it’s a loosening of the grip as much as it is, . , kind of reaming at the target of retargeting in a different way.

And I think the next article that you sent me is a perfect example of that. So tell folks about this article that you sent me.

[00:22:38] Dr. Rich Grego: . , yeah, it’s a great article. I like it. It’s written for the public and Aon magazine by some leading public intellectual kind of scientific figures and, uh, who are both physicists. And then, uh, a couple of ’em have been guests on this show, I think, at least.

Right. Is Evan Tom Thompson or Thomas? What’s his name? Evan Thompson. One of them. Yes. . , yeah, and, .Uh, he’s a psych, you know, he’s a psychologist who, . , yeah, Marcelo Gleer, Adam Frank, are two, . , really popular physicists right now. And I mean, by popular, I mean, in the, in the popular culture right now, you hear a lot about, hear a lot from them.

And Evan Thompson certainly is as a psychologist. Um, I just, you know, again, the, the, this, the article, uh, talks about the need for science, again, to expand its purview from simply. Looking at reality from a third person lens to more at least of a first person lens. They have no idea how to do that, but they wanna st They, they wanna say that as scientists, when we’re talking about reality in general, we can no longer in only validate a third person perspective, abstract scientific perspective on reality.

We need to admit that there’s such a thing as a first person perspective, and yet all three of those guys, and I’m not really sure about Evan Thompson, but I think all three of those guys are mat pretty much mat, they’re physicalist. I I would consider them physicalist and I have no idea how you would reconcile those two per those two parameters.

I think that the, just to add one more thing, I think the, the, the contemporary physicalist who are being the most honest and, and putting forth the best argument now that they can come up with. Are the, the guys that are called the limited eliminativists or illusionists, sometimes they’re, they call themselves, um, who just sort of bite the bullet and they say consciousness is an illusion.

I don’t know how that works either, but that’s another new argument that’s sort of doubling down on the traditional materialist argument. The other, the other strategy is to do what these three guys have done and say, well, we also, we’re not really sci we don’t believe in scientism anymore. We believe in naturalism.

So we admit that people have things like lived experience and you can find meaning in life, even though life really is meaningless because all it is is a bunch of physical forces and abstract quantities in motion. But, but we like that. That’s the strategy. I think that’s the significance of that article as

[00:25:12] Alex Tsakiris: far as I’m concerned.

I would agree. So what they’re trying to do is to, like, they’ve done a million times before with other things. They’re, they’re, they’re trying to have it both ways, right? So from a philosophical standpoint, they’re trying to reach down and embrace you and say, we got you. Yeah. And then from a scientific standpoint, they’re saying, Hey, there’s this new thing out there called experience.

Yeah. Like nose flash. There is such a thing as human experience. Yeah. But then they’re careful in the article to say, as you just said, to walk the line and say, Hey. This doesn’t mean I’m down with anything supernatural or anything outside of physics. Right. Right. Which of course is complete nonsense because the problem with consciousness, the problem with consciousness is not an illusion which is obvious Yeah.

And is proven by consciousness surviving death. Yeah. Is that it does mean that science is fundamentally incomplete in its understanding. So when you science can no longer talk about things like supernatural, there’s the, the whole meaning of science is that we can measure things in this natural world.

And now you’re starting. So as soon as you start talking about things outside the natural world, yeah. You’re, you can put super on it or you can put some extra other term on it, but you’re outside of, of that range. Do you see the same contradiction I do in this idea of lived experience? If consciousness is ultimately an illusion.

[00:26:43] Dr. Rich Grego: Yeah, I mean, I, I, you know, Sean Carroll is writing books about the meaning of life. He’s a complete materialist. Right? I think you had him on the show about it.

Right. And, um, you know, Sam Harris is, is, is a guru now, right? I mean, he’s a pop culture sort of guru, but people come to him with answers about the meaning of life and what, what is it? . , and, and to me, I i, if you’re a physicalist, one of the main thing, I mean, you, you, you can’t really acknowledge morality.

You can’t really acknowledge aesthetic quality. You can’t really acknowledge literature, art. You can’t acknowledge the meaning of life if there is such a thing. Now they, they don’t think there’s, I mean, it’s ruled out in advance.

[00:27:26] Alex Tsakiris: From your perspective as a guy, philosophy, cultural history, why is that obvious to you and I? But they’ve obscured it in terms of, they make it sound like, well, what do you mean, rich? No, of course you can.

[00:27:39] Dr. Rich Grego: Yeah, yeah. Um, gosh, I don’t know. I mean, your, your guess is as good as mine cuz you’ve interrogated these guys on the same

[00:27:47] Alex Tsakiris: thing, right? ,

[00:27:47] Dr. Rich Grego: the apostles of the established religion of scientism and physicalism have said it best themselves, right? Daw Richard Dawkins says, That, . , that we’re biological robots, . , robots don’t have any sense of meaning.

They don’t have any consciousness, they don’t have any sense of morality. They don’t choose, they don’t have free will. . , he also said that the world as we see it . Is not only pointless, but it’s, um, everything that you would expect if his reductive con, um, conception of evolution is true purposeless, pity list, cold, indifferent, cruel.

. , which again, I suppose the cruel part isn’t a word that he could really admit because you can’t even have, you can’t even have good or evil as you’ve pointed out, in a realm without consciousness or meaning. So I have no idea. I think that’s what that mean. I think again, and the great, the great gift that science has given us is to be, is to allow people who wanna approach questions about experience.

In that reductive abstract way, mechanistic way that science allows you to, to proceed, to look at questions and only look at them through that narrow lens. But, and, and that narrow lens a allows you by virtue of its reductive, simplistic, abstract nature to control and manipulate the world and the environment in very effective ways that you can’t, if you admit all these other things into the picture, but that’s the, the scientific picture necessitates if it’s the physicalist one that you, you rule out in advance.

Anything that associated with consciousness, . . . .

[00:29:35] Alex Tsakiris: And you know, the way I always put it is . Science requires our ability to measure. Right. That’s it.

And if, if we’re gonna say that consciousness is this other player in this game, but we can’t really wrap our arms around it, Neil to grass, Tysons fumbling to say, then we’re, we’re saying that everything we do over here, we can’t really measure because there’s an asterisk by all our measurements that says we couldn’t really account for consciousness.

Yeah. We know what’s out there, but we couldn’t really account for it. Yeah. And that’s really uncomfortable. And so I, I think what’s really kind of cool, but I, I love how you brought this to the table for this discussion, is this idea of how they’re now trying to sneak in this lived experience. Yeah. So when you see somebody say, lived experience, know that what they’re really saying is, You’re a biological robot in a meaningless universe.

And I’m gonna condescendingly pat you on the head and say, you have the illusion of having some form of experience, but I’m not really acknowledging that. Do you

[00:30:37] Dr. Rich Grego: think may, let me ask you, cuz this is something we talked about prior to in anticipation of this, um, this talk, and maybe I’m getting ahead of where you wanted to go with it anyway, but do you think that those guys, you know, who are, who are, again, they’re such important public intellectuals, they influence millions of people.

They speak for the ethos of our intellectual and popular culture. Do you think those guys, meaning the Dawkins and the Sam Harris’s and the Sean Carrolls, do you think that they’re actually secretly, they’re so cynical that they’re smarter than what they’re actually saying? Or do you think they really believe in some kind of convoluted way that you can have a meaningless universe, but also have meaning at the same time?

[00:31:26] Alex Tsakiris: This is the question I’ve really wrestled with for a long time, and I think I’ve flubbed it for the longest time for years, because I really didn’t believe in my heart of hearts that someone could wrap their head around it. I thought they were, I thought they were front man. I thought they were playing, and I don’t think that anymore.

And I, I think it boils down to three things, and I think they’re really important to differentiate. The first is just a personal, you know what I mean? We have per, yeah, we all have personal beliefs that we’ve built up because they make us feel comfortable. They make us feel like who we are. They make us feel like we understand the world at least a little bit, where we can kind of function in it.

And when someone comes along and wants to change that, the reaction is, Really strange in some ways. You know, this is the, the religious kind of thing and the fundamentalist kind of thing. It’s the cultish thing, but it’s also just the kind of, every day I get up and I eat the same breakfast and I go to the gym at the same time and it’s, I want to feel comfortable.

I get it. I’m there. But when that comes into your job as a scientist or philosopher, you get what you get, which is what we see. The second element of it, I think, is professional. You know what I mean? You can’t talk, uh uh. We, we know this, you know, all the Skeptiko shows I’ve done where somebody says, Hey man, it was my job.

And the, you know, my boss said, the head of the department said, you publish that again. You can find someplace else to go hang your shingle and work as a professor, which isn’t easy, right? So you just learn to kind of get along and what’s the most important thing? But the third one, and this is my frustration with so many, the people I talk to in our community and the community we’re familiar with is the deception.

There are people who, it is their job to obscure, to confuse, to mislead, if you will. They don’t even have to mislead. Alls they have to do is confuse to keep the momentum going. Like we’ve seen, you know, you talk about the near death experience when that thing first hit, you know, always talk about the Evan Alexander thing, and all of a sudden the pushback was immediate and it came from all these angles and was on the front of the magazines and all this.

And he was debunked out, organized, systematic. There is something behind that. And when I talk to, you know, near death experience, researchers who are at universities and say, do you see that? And they kind of chuckle and they kind of sneer and they kind of condescendingly go, well, well no. I mean, there isn’t any real deception.

Well, of course there is. All you have to do is you have to look other places. And that’s where I thought, you know, at the beginning I said, you look at what happened in the last year and, and how they claimed made all these false claims about science that have now been proven false. And they claim that they were science.

That is how the game is played on as it was revealed to us. To think that that game, to some extent isn’t being played over here on the consciousness thing, I think is just naive. What do you think?

[00:34:39] Dr. Rich Grego: Yeah, I, I, I, I, let me ask you this because I get you, and, and, and the last few interviews, I’d say the last six or seven interviews, shows you’ve done on Skeptiko, I think have really, with a few people, . , in particular have really, I thought addressed that and drawn a lot of these disparate.

Areas where you, where you recognize this going on together. I thought, I don’t know if you agree, but I I thought they were particularly good. Um, made me think a lot about, um, about this. I, I just, I, I, I look around and I think even with, say, the science recently about a lot of these recent issues that you, you’ve addressed on Skeptiko.

Um, and you see that, you know, the, you know, that really within the, the space of a year, the, these, these claims are made and then shown to be ridiculous. So either just wrong or inconsistent are the reason that the people who are making them, even the, even in, even in those situations, not even about consciousness, are those people just doing that because they’re supposed to sound authoritative and they’re, and they, and they’re supposed to sound like they, like they know what they’re talking about and they’re pretty sure, and they’re all kinds of political forces sort of forcing them and pressuring them to maybe.

Sound more sure of their theories than they are? Or is it even more diabolical than that? That’s what I’m wondering is, is it that, or does it depend on the field? I don’t know. Or, um, does it, are, are, do they really, are they being deceptive because they just want to be deceptive for evil purposes, for lack of a better word?

[00:36:19] Alex Tsakiris: .

Well, you know, it’s interesting because I, I, I, I was with you right there until the end, and then I think it gets tricky because I, I really appreciate that you saw that in those shows, because I think when you step outside of our little world here, which is the, which is the real game, the game that you and I are playing, does consciousness survive?

Death is the game. Because it’s ultimately, who are you? Why are you here? It’s the most fundamental questions we can ask and to get pulled into, you know, all this other stuff of current events or the UFO stuff or you know, anything about the health crisis that went on, you know? Right. Is really to kinda miss the point.

Cuz what you really wanna know is, Is there more to me and then I can start dealing with, you know, what is my relationship to that greater? And I think as we’re saying, you can only do that if you step over that line and get into consciousness. But the good thing about going in those other areas is it kind of reveals some things that we can know about the deceptive element.

And there’s two things I think at play. One is there are people who can be convinced along that professional line that it is in everyone’s best interest for them to be deceptive. And come on, we all kind of play the game and you know, you didn’t tell the car dealer this or you know, whatever the Yeah.

When I filled out my mortgage application, of course I didn’t exactly, you know, do this and that. We all know there’s a gray area. So if I’m gonna play that gray area, am I really that different from, from anyone else? There’s that. And I think that can be really, really confusing to us who are trying to figure out who is Sam Harris?

Is he real? Is Neil deGrasse Tyson? Mm-hmm. Is he real or is he a siop? Because the second part of it is the people who that is their job. So you know, the Michael Wallick interview, I did, Bob, you go and you come out of it and you go, wait a minute, maybe that is this guy’s job. He is a professional because we know we have, we know we have more of them than an ever, any time in history people whose job it is to control the narrative, to be part of the social engineering project.

So Right. A again, I think the hard thing for people in our field to grasp is to even consider that that might be at play. And when I bring it up to folks and they go, oh, they snicker, they sneer, they’re, oh my God, that couldn’t be in play in reincarnation research, in near death. Experience research. Yes.

Naive, of course. Yeah. It’s a big, it’s a big game.

[00:38:55] Dr. Rich Grego: Yeah. I, I, I, I’m, I’m with you there. Even though, and I can see why people like, uh, the, the large majority of scholars who are just, you know, putting their nose to the grindstone and, you know, only thinking in terms in the, in the academic bubble that they’re working in, um, where you, you know, you learn the lingo and you understand how ideas are expressed, and you have this general sort of paradigm, you know, you’re working within in terms of where you go with your, where you can and can’t go with your inquiry and stuff.

I can see how the large majority of those people who I guess are the ones who, who, um, are, I guess those are the, the people who we’re talking about, I mean, the average, uh, College professor who never, you know, becomes famous, but he’s teaching tons, thousands of students, right, all the time, and influencing them in terms of things like consciousness.

Um, I can see why they would never even really think about, maybe even question the, the received wisdom that consciousness is physical somehow, and never really think outside that box or challenge it seriously. So they’d never even get to the point where they’re saying, well, why would anybody, why wouldn’t, why would anybody who knows this is r must who must know?

This is ridiculous. Lie about it. I, I just think, you know, most people are just oblivious. They’re, I guess it’s like, you know, the levels of, um, of recovery from substance abuse. The first thing to know is how ignorant, you know, how bad you, how bad off you are. And, and people who are really bad at the lowest level don’t even know they have a problem yet.

And I get the impression that the large majority of people in our intellectual and popular culture, they don’t even know there’s a problem. And I guess you would say that is largely because the people who do know there’s a problem don’t want ’em to know there’s a problem and feed ’em crap and keep them distracted and, and keep them scared if that’s necessary.

Is that what sort of, where you, where the Alex Securus, um, sort of worldview on that,

[00:41:12] Alex Tsakiris: more or less it centered. More or less. I mean, I do think it’s interesting. We didn’t play a lot of the clip, but to listen to Joe Rogan, who I think is tremendous on a lot of things. Yeah. With limited hangout man. Yeah.

Limited hangout. You’re listening to Sam Harris, Lex Friedman. Yeah. Love Lex Friedman. I’m all over the AI stuff. Limited hangout. Yeah. Listen to what these guys take. Sam Harris as an example. We could have five other people that would fit the bill, including the people you mentioned, Sean Carroll, Negras Tyson, more, more current people.

. , but it’s always the message never gets to this point. It, the discussion. Yeah. Never reaches, uh, this level in terms of how this is a socially engineered, how this might be. Yeah. How this might be socially engineered. Why it would have certain advantages.

What would be the advantages to doing it a certain way.

[00:42:07] Dr. Rich Grego: Right. And, and, and I agree. And, and you know, the, it’s obvious why I, it seems to me it’s obvious why it would be great if you wanted to have a population that was easy to, to, to control and to exploit in various ways. To have that myth be the one you perpetuate as, as your, as your, you know, your social ethos.

And then, and again, for me, cuz for me, you know, I’ve been indoctrinated by your show for long enough that, that I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m where you know, where your, your show is heading in terms of I got that. I mean, I think that’s, it’s pretty obvious that it’s obvious that there, you know, there’s probably a, in some sense, and I, and I don’t know how a de a deliberate effort to keep people.

Dumb. Um, so that they can be exploited easily. I mean, it’s pretty obvious in a lot of ways, . . . , but then why, why do they, who wants to do that and why is yet another level, right? . , who is it that wants to do this? Keeping people dumb? I mean, who could you put your finger on and say, . , . , a handful of corporate CEOs and political figures, and then beyond them, why are they that way?

Is there, so who’s controlling what they think?

[00:43:28] Alex Tsakiris: I think that’s a great question. . And I think it’s a question that also derails the whole conversation in a way that is, they, I don’t know that they want it to be derailed, but it is a natural part of the thing.

Cuz I think the answer to that comes in a clip and I’ll try and find the clip and paste it in, but I don’t have it at my fingertips. It’s from a X CIA guy, and there is no such thing as X CIA guy. Nonetheless, he, he points out what I’ve always kind of known and he reveals it and he says it’s about, uh, confusion.

. , that ultimately the, the whole world is so complex and the social engineering project is so impossible that the best we can hope for in our operations is confusion. And confusion is a good thing because , if I control the signal, And I have a bunch of noise that I can introduce and, but I can still get my signal through.

Then I’ve kind of accomplished cause I’ve blocked the other signals that can get through. Yeah. So confusion. Confusion is a good thing. . , get people on their heels, get people thinking, atheism, get people thinking, then occultism and satanic stuff and get people thinking lived experience.

But there really isn’t any real lived experience. Cause conscious . Divide and rule and confusion. Is your friend in, in that process?

[00:44:51] Dr. Rich Grego: Are people though who are perpetuating the say? I’ll just take the, you know, in my, in my . , area that, that I work in. The people who are perpetuating, you know, the, the physicalism about consciousness, uh, narrative.

. , I mean is there any way to trace them to some larger. You know, their thought and their influence to some larger forces at work. . .

[00:45:15] Alex Tsakiris: I don’t think so, because I think we have to start with that, that almost like that pyramid that we talked about and at the base of the pyramid is, I don’t want to change my beliefs.

To whatever extent my life is livable. I won’t even say great. To every extent it’s livable. It rests on the fact that I’m constantly seeking to be soothed, to be comforted by that voice inside my head, manipulated in a way that makes me feel okay. And the last thing I wanna do is take that leap and say there’s something more, because beyond this whole discussion we’re having about biologic robots in Immune universe is some of that Sam Harris stuff that he’s.

Repurposed in a way, but like, what is that voice inside your head and why are you listening to it and what does it do? And is there an ultimate voice beyond that voice? All these are spiritual questions. The barrier to those spiritual questions is the voice is purely a product of your brain. Right.

That’s a stop. That’s a full stop. Yeah. But beyond that, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of roadblocks that I don’t wanna cross, you don’t wanna cross in terms of understanding who we really are. How does that, how does that hit you in terms of, you know, your lived experience?

[00:46:32] Dr. Rich Grego: Yeah. Yeah. That, uh, no, makes, makes a great deal of sense. . , I, I, you know, I, I looked up some, uh, statistics on, on, it’s just interesting to me that, um, With respect to beliefs in consciousness, popular beliefs in consciousness versus beliefs in the academy. And there’s almost a diametrically opposed difference between the willingness to accept ideas like extended consciousness in the general public versus in the academy.

So, um, it’s interesting if you, if you’re gonna, if you’re gonna be able to participate in the, um, in the high priesthood, you really have to, it seems to be me, you really have to buy the party line that it’s, uh, that it’s promulgating because it’s about three quarters or, or even more of the general public tend to be very open to what all these, these, you know, they’re called paranormal, right?

Um, or Parapsychological phenomenon and, and dimensions of experience. Um, the very fact that they’re a anything like that is para anything is kind of ridiculous. Right. Um, but, but, uh, among the general public, there’s the, a 75, 80%, um, openness to understand to, to, to, to the, the reality of those, of those ex uh, experiences and that there’s some, some something generally substantive behind them.

Whereas in the academy, it’s just the opposite. Even religious beliefs, openness to, to religious belief, it’s, I think, I dunno, something like 75% of people in roughly, uh, philosophers are atheists, professional philosophers, and something like 75 to 80% of the general public are in some sense religious. .

[00:48:25] Alex Tsakiris: Hey, rich, before I, I let you go, tell me about . , this project that you’re working on .

[00:48:30] Dr. Rich Grego: Yeah. Infinite Discoveries, uh, is our a website, uh, that put together really by colleagues that, that drew me into the project. . , that is difficult to define. I invite you to visit the We’ve there, there are, um, blogs by, by ourselves, and now we’re beginning to ask some of our contributors, . , and our speakers because we also have a YouTube, um, a YouTube channel that’s associated with the, with the site.

And we talk about current events, uh, philo, but philosophy, history, uh, the social and behavioral, uh, sciences, um, art, humanities with leading kind of like Skeptiko with leading thinkers and their critics. And we consider those things on the, on that, uh, that site. Um, so feel free to investigate that, that, uh, at again, infinite if you’re interested in some, . , . , . , I don’t know, cutting edge thinking and research that we are doing and that other people are doing on world affairs and the human condition.

I guess that’s, that, that’s what the project is really all about.

[00:49:42] Alex Tsakiris: Awesome. Well, I’m so glad you, uh, you, you reached out to me. It’s always great to talk to you. I think we have such a cool connection. I appreciate that. You know, we, we’ve kind of connected on the show a number of times. In some ways I’m always encouraging people to do like what you did is to kinda reach out and say, Hey, you know, I like this and I wanna be more involved.

I’m gonna go interview. You did. Even further, I just say, I tell people, set up an interview with someone you want and we’ll do it. Yeah. You took it one step further and actually did a couple of interviews for us and they were great. Thank you. They’re really good. I think there’s a lot of people out there that have the ability, if they’re willing to put themselves out there as

[00:50:18] Dr. Rich Grego: definitely yeah’s true.

A lot of your Skeptiko viewers, I’d love to hear them, . , corral some people and, uh, into an interview for you or, or, or even inquire themselves. I agree.

[00:50:28] Alex Tsakiris: Okay, well, . , rich, thanks again and, uh, we’ll talk soon. Thank you.

Thanks again to Dr. Richard Grego for joining me today on Skeptiko.

The one question that I tee up is in light of everything that’s going on and a five to break that down for you. .

How are we to . Understand

Folks in prominent positions who hold on to the . Biologic robot, meaningless universe meme. Is it as simple as self-soothing. Could that be the answer? As always, let me know your thoughts. Let me hear from you. Engage I’m here. I’m not too busy. I want to talk to you.

Take care. Bye for now.


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